March 2009
Walt Disney World Bits and Bites

Feature Article

This article appeared in the March 3, 2009 Issue #493 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)

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Ever wonder what Walt Disney World was like way back when? We rummage around in our archives for this monthly feature, which takes you back in history for a glimpse of Walt Disney World through the ages.

Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village

On March 22, 1975, Cinderella cut the ceremonial ribbon and declared the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village open. The Village was composed of shops and restaurants created as only Disney can. In 1977, the name was changed to the Walt Disney World Village. Some of the places added in the first five years included the Empress Lilly, the Village Pavilion's Pooh Place, Great Southern Crafts and Lillie Langtry's Photo Artist. *1/

Within the old brick and wood-shingled buildings, glass cutters etched ships on carafes, potters shaped clay into works of art, engravers inlaid gold designs in steel and candy makers twisted sweet lollipops. Decorative flower and plant arrangements from the Flower Garden and European treasures from Von Ottl's Antiques enhanced many shop interiors. */2

Thirty-one different shops and restaurants were connected by flower- and shrub-lined walkways. Among them: Carolyn's Couture - Fifth Avenue elegance in the shape of designer originals and personal fashion shows; Village Spirits - vintage wines, liqueurs and imported beers; Village Restaurant - lunch by sunlight and dinner by moonlight overlooking the Buena Vista Lagoon; Posh Pets - from pedigreed dogs to parakeets and tropical fish; Port of Entry - clothes, furniture and curios from around the world; Pottery Chalet - fine crystal, china, stoneware and lawn statuaries. */3

History of the Name Changes: After the change in 1977, the village became the Disney Village Marketplace in 1989. On September 7, 1997, the Village Marketplace became part of the Downtown Disney complex and was called the Downtown Disney Marketplace. *4/

SOURCES: *1/ March 21, 1980, issue of Eyes and Ears; *2/Fall 1975 Disney News; *3/ Walt Disney World Vacationland Spring 1976; *4/ The Official Encyclopedia Disney A to Z, 3rd edition, Dave Smith.

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Steve Barrett, author of the Hidden Mickeys books and webmaster of, wants to acquaint you with a few Hidden Mickey images:

1. I'll ask for a vote on my website on these first two images from the Contemporary Resort lobby mural. One is on the wall facing Chef Mickey's (and the new Contempo Cafe). Look to the lower level of the mural, at the dress on the fourth girl from the right corner of the wall (thanks to Scott Weideman).

The second image is high on the wall facing Bay Lake. Search for a spot on the red right wing (as you face the mural) of an owl perched on a girl's head (thanks to Sharon Dale). Let me know what you think!

2. Check out these two lock Mickeys, the first one in the early part of the American Adventure show (thanks to Sharon Dale.) and the other at the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

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Senior Editor Debra Martin Koma just returned from ESPN The Weekend: This was the second consecutive year that my family and I attended this 6-year-old event, and I have to say, even though I'm not much of a sports fan, it was a lot of fun. The weather on Friday and Saturday was beautiful, especially on Saturday, and fans were out in force -- I've only ever seen the Studios this crowded during the holidays. Sunday started with high winds and rain, which we feared would cause the cancellation of celebrity appearances. The bad weather gradually gave way to much cooler temps, but lots of sunshine, so it wasn't too terrible at all. Much of the activity occurred under the Sorcerer's Hat -- during the weekend we were able to listen to conversations with quarterback Kurt Warner, Kansas City Chief Tony Gonzalez, tennis great Mary Jo Fernandez, and football legends Warren Moon and Jim Kelly, among others. We also attended one of the interactive game shows, Stump the Schwab (that's ESPN personality Howie Schwab), featuring Brian Westbrook, Brandon Jacobs, and Pittsburgh Steeler Lamarr Woodley, who was our main reason for being there (we're originally from the Steel City).

Over the course of the weekend, we were able to make it to a couple programs at the Premier Theater (formerly home to the Hunchback of Notre Dame show), notably the Inside the Huddle Running Back Edition that featured several current players, as well as Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett (a University of Pittsburgh -- my alma mater -- legend). Crowds at the Premier Theater shows lined up for as much as an hour early -- on Friday we queued in between buildings near the Muppets theater, on Saturday (for a program featuring baseball great Rickey Henderson) we lined up along the curb in the Streets of America for more than 40 minutes! The weekend was a treat for a sports enthusiast like my son, who was in his glory seeing all these past and present athletes, not to mention the ESPN sportscasters that he hopes to emulate one day, up close and in person. For a photo gallery of some of the weekend's highlights:

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AllEars® Feature Writer Jack Spence recently shared two cool things in his blog, The World According to Jack, that some people might not be aware of.

Epcot's Cool Wash: Off to the side of Test Track at Epcot you'll find Cool Wash. Designed to look like a car wash, this structure sprays a fine mist on hot guests during the summer and often sells slushy Coke products to cool you down. But have you ever paid any attention to the intermittent spinning of the two cleaning brushes?

Over at Animal Kingdom, you may have seen the shrine that is located across the way from Expedition Everest, but the real magic of this shrine is in its shape. If you stand back so that your line-of-sight has the shrine directly in front of the attraction's mountains, you'll find that the shrine has the exact same outline as the Himalayas in the distance.

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Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival - - Celebrate Floral Fun and 'Go Green' March 18-May 31, 2009. New in 2009 will be the 'Cinderellabration' Topiary, Pirates Adventure Zone, and Pixie Hollow Playground. Flower Power Concerts will be held on weekends only:

3/20 - 3/22 -- Davy Jones ("Daydream Believer")
3/27 - 3/29 -- Paul Revere and the Raiders ("Good Thing")

Disney's Wide World of Sports

The Inaugural 2009 Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend will be held March 6-8, 2009. The Disney Princesses are the inspiration for the weekend's events, designed for women of all ages, focusing on the attributes every princess possesses: commitment, courage, determination, fantasy, perseverance, and strength. The weekend includes: Disney's Fit for a Princess Expo, a Family 5K, Kids' Races and the Disney's Princess Half Marathon. Entry fee for the half marathon is $120, and is non-refundable and non-transferable. Race day registration is not available. Two-Person Team Entries for Mother/Daughter; Sister/Sister; Open Division are $10 team fee plus the cost of each individual registration. Half Marathon finishers will receive a special Princess Tiara medal. Entry fee for Disney's Princess Family 5K is $40; for the Kids' Races is $10. More information is available at under "Headline Events."

EDITOR'S NOTE: AllEars® Team Member Laura Gilbreath will be running in the race! Good luck, Laura!

Atlanta Braves 12th Spring Training at Disney's Wide World of Sports runs through March 30. Individual game tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster (online at or by calling 407-839-3900) and at the Wide World of Sports box office. Prices range from $15 (general admission lawn seats) to $28 (lower reserved); add $4 per ticket for Premium Games (Yankees, Mets and Red Sox). Information about group tickets and mini-packs is available by calling 407-939-GAME (4263) and online at

AllEars® Meet and Greet: Meet Deb Wills and members of the AllEars.Net Team on Sunday, March 15 at 11 a.m. to the left of the entrance of the Kilimanjaro Safari ride in Animal Kingdom. We'll get in the standby line at 11:15, take a safari and spot some wild animals, and then do lunch at the Flame Tree Barbecue. First five attendees (adults 18 and older) to arrive at the meet wearing an AllEars® logo t-shirt, hat or button will get a surprise gift. (One per family.) RSVP to Deb Wills at if you plan to attend.


Don't forget to check our Events page for current updates:



Magic Kingdom

The Hall of Presidents will be closed for rehab through July 1, 2009.

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin will be closed for refurbishment March 2-6, 2009.

The Heritage House Shop is closed until July 1, 2009.


Ellen's Energy Adventure in Epcot's Future World is closed for refurbishment through March 22, 2009.

Refreshment Port will be closed March 15 - April 4, 2009.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular will be dark March 14 and 15 due to Cheer and Dance Championships.

Animal Kingdom

Restaurantosaurus will be closed for refurbishment March 3-12, 2009.

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon is closed for refurbishment through March 21, 2009.

Surfing classes and private surfing events at Typhoon Lagoon are not available until March 2009. The Craig Carroll Cocoa Beach Surf School at Typhoon Lagoon can now be booked for March 23, 2009, and beyond.

Animal Kingdom Villas and Lodge

Disney Vacation Club has announced that the Kidani Village will open on May 1, 2009. As the development of Kidani Village continues at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas, crews are preparing to complete the new savanna and acclimate the animals to their new habitat. To accommodate this important process, animals are not scheduled to be on Sunset Savanna from January 15-April 15, 2009.

Beach Club Resort

Stormalong Bay will be refurbished from January 5 - April 15, 2009. Sections of the feature pool will be closed. You may continue to use the three leisure pools located throughout the resort. Additionally, the feature pool at Disney's BoardWalk Resort will be available for Yacht and Beach Club guests.

Contemporary Resort

Construction Update: Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort will open on August 4, 2009. The Wave restaurant is open on the first floor and the Contempo Cafe opened on the 4th floor. The Outer Rim has reopened. The Tennis Courts and Playground at the Contemporary, which are currently closed, are scheduled to reopen on August 31, 2009.

Concourse Spirits & Sundries will be closed for refurbishment January 5 - April 25, 2009. Sundries will be relocated to either Fantasia or BayView Gifts.

Contemporary Resort's pool is closed through March 15, 2009.

Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

The Meadows Pool is closed through March 13, 2009.

Port Orleans Riverside

Alligator Bayou Quiet Pool is closed February 23 - March 6, 2009.

Saratoga Springs

The High Rock Spring Pool will be closed for refurbishment March 9-30, 2009. Guests can use the three leisure pools located throughout the resort, as well as the feature pool at Disney's Old Key West.

Yacht Club Resort

Stormalong Bay will be refurbished now through April 15, 2009. Sections of the feature pool will be closed. You may continue to use the three leisure pools located throughout the resort. Additionally, the feature pool at Disney's BoardWalk Resort will be available for Yacht and Beach Club guests.

Be sure to check our Rehabs and Closings page for periodic updates:

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Each month we share reports of guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland experiencing special Magic, and also special celebrations as part of the "What Will You Celebrate?" program.

Rachel MacDonald, Lossiemouth, Scotland: My husband and I got married at the Disney Wedding Pavilion on 25th August 2008. After a fantastic day, any normal newlyweds would take the chance to chill, but we decided we were going to spend the day at Magic Kingdom. On exchanging our tickets at the hotel reception area, we were given "Just Married" badges. On arrival at Magic Kingdom, just past the gates, we were greeted by a member of The Year of a Million Dreams crew who struck up conversation with us. He noticed our badges and was speaking to us about our big day. He then asked us if we would like to make our honeymoon special and invited us along to ride in the afternoon parade! They issued us with our own Mickey ears to wear and complimentary photos taken whilst in the parade. This was a brilliant experience and really made our honeymoon. You hear of these things happening to other people but when it happens to you it's unbelievable. What an experience!


The Gilroy Family, Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada: We are Disney World fanatics who took our first trip to Disneyland in February. The first magical moment happened in the Magic Kingdom. After experiencing some of what Tomorrowland had to offer, we decided to stop and eat at the Pizza Port. As we entered the door, we were informed that we were the family chosen for a magical moment by their staff! Although it is a fast food restaurant, we were seated and given menus to select our meals and our table had a reserved sign with a table cloth on it. We then placed our order with the waitress, who brought us real cutlery along with our meals on real plates and drinks in real glasses. We were also given a drink to go when we were done eating and paying for the meal. As a token of the experience, they also gave us a menu autographed by their entire staff to take home. It was a very fun experience and our three boys (ages 14, 12, and 10) loved it. We were also given Disney Citizen pins to wear for the day. Our second magic moment was the next day, our first at Disney's California Adventure. While we were waiting in line we were asked if we would like to be the family to do the countdown and officially open California Adventure. We were also asked to sign their official guestbook and received the Disney Citizen pins once again. What a great way to enter Disney's California Adventure for the very first time! All in all, our first-ever experience in Disneyland was great and we are very happy we went!


Laura D., Sarasota, Florida: My husband and I, who live in Florida, along with our son and his girlfriend, who live in California, spend the week after Thanksgiving camping at Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground each year. This last year we arrived at Fort Wilderness on November 30, and after setting up our campsite headed to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (another tradition!). Of course, we had a great time as we drank hot chocolate and ate cookies (yum!) and talked about the rest of the week's activities. My husband and I have multiple day/Park Hopper passes but our son and his girlfriend did not and we were trying to decide what the best option would be for them. The kids decided they wanted to go to Animal Kingdom this trip as we didn't go there last year. Here's where our Magical Moment comes in! I was standing in line at the Animal Kingdom ticket window to purchase a single-day ticket for my son's girlfriend when a man approached her after seeing us all in conference at the ticket window. He said he was a Disney employee and had extra park passes that needed to be used by the end of the month. He and his wife had six extra passes and as his wife had invited three people to use three of the passes that day, he still had three extra passes that needed to be used. He asked if we could use them! Of course Courtney (my son's girlfriend) was a little skeptical of this offer from a total stranger and asked what the cost was. By this time my son and my husband got in on the conversation as well and learned that this generous employee just wanted to give his extra passes to someone who could use them! He said he just didn't want the passes to go to waste! Of course we were thrilled, and couldn't thank him enough for his generosity! He acted as if it was no big deal, accepted our thanks and went on his way with his family. We did see him a few more times in passing while at Animal Kingdom, and we all smiled and waved as we went by. Oh, and the other great thing -- these passes turned out to be full Magic Your Way passes, with the Park Hopper option and all the bells and whistles!


Send your Magical Moments to: Also, check out Wandering the World for magical moment photos submitted by our readers.


Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.